connectThis past week a great dialogue started at a parent/community event hosted by my school board’s Parent Involvement Committee.  Based on the premise that social media is not going away, our school board supported the committee to host an evening of panel presentations and dialogue regarding social media and its impact on our youth.  Attendance was great and included all stakeholders in education for this “Social Media Lowdown” (#SMLoDown).  Our panel of student, community police officer, and teacher/parent provided excellent insight and perspectives to the many aspects of social media and our changing communication technologies.  Parents were eager for the guidance — some attending with their children.  A most engaging and informative Q&A and discussion amongst the panelists and participants followed.

Some feedback from parents already suggests to me that the evening was well received and appreciated and that the dialogue will continue in our community.  One parent expressed her relief that the session wasn’t just about “all the bad things” that could happen to kids online.  She was most happy to gain insight to guide the opportunities that social media networking has to offer.  Other parents felt it was exactly the information they needed to better support their children with social media and online experiences.  Some felt that for such an important topic, more parents should have been in attendance.  However, I think the 60-70 audience size allowed for good discussion and sharing.  I am confident that conversation and critical thinking will branch out from these participants.  It has been great to hear about some engaging conversations that have already occurred within families since the evening’s event.  Further resources will be shared electronically with those who attended and anyone else interested.  I am certain there will be further opportunities for this dialogue as well.

I am most grateful that our school board supported this topic and outreach to parents and to our community.  Much appreciation has been extended to all who supported and attended.  We had a great moderator and support from a local radio station as well.  Our student trustee on the panel was such an important voice in this dialogue!  All three panelists provided valuable perspectives and helpful suggestions.  Andrew Campbell, our teacher/parent panelist has provided his presentation slides and the video of his talk on his blog to help the dialogue continue.  Thanks, Andrew!

I am honoured to have been a part of a change in conversation about social media and the support of our youth.  I hope my sharing of this event and the resources will help others with this dialogue and support in their own communities.

Here is a list of resources/reading we compiled for further support:

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada – Video

MediaSmarts (Canadian site/also a good follow on Twitter: @MediaSmarts)

Media and Digital Literacy: Resources for Parents

Parent Resources – YouTube Help

Why Being Young Doesn’t Make You a Social Media Expert

Kids & Technology: The Developmental Health Debate

Seven Media-Savvy Skills All Parents Need in 2013

Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media

Keeping One Step Ahead of Kids in a Mobile World

Choose What Happens Next – A Series of Video Lessons on Responsible Cyber Citizenship

A Letter to Parents of Digital Age Children

Creating a Family Media Agreement: How to Have the Conversation

Some food for thought for both parents and educators:

It’s vital we teach social networking skills in school

Should schools offer social media etiquette classes?